Apple’s iBeacons have a lot of potential for inclusion in location-based games, according to The Tap Lab CEO Dave Bisceglia, who spoke to Re/code in an interview. Currently, iOS game developers who want to incorporate location into gameplay are limited to determining location via Apple’s internal GPS system, which is not designed to deliver precise information, especially indoors.

iBeacons, on the other hand, are physical Bluetooth low-energy transmitters that are able to provide micro-location information to nearby apps, with an accuracy range of a few feet. For this reason, iBeacons could be incorporated into a whole new category of games that offer multiplayer interactions and other features at specific real-world locations.

Bisceglia’s company, for example, is behind a location-based game called Tiny Tycoons. In the game, the idea is to travel around the world and claim real-world locations, kind of like a cross between a city building game and Foursquare.

Rule the REAL WORLD! Tiny Tycoons is the first location-based tycoon game on the App Store. Build your fortune, travel the globe and claim your favorite real-world places before someone else does!

RISE TO THE TOP: In Tiny Tycoons, you can be a Celebrity Chef at a 5-Star Restaurant, the Lead Barista at your favorite Café, or a Millionaire CEO with offices around the world. The choice is up to you!

The company is currently testing an internal version of Tiny Tycoons that takes advantage of Apple’s iBeacons, which are used within the game to alert people when they enter a building “owned” by another player. For example, in the video below, Bisceglia enters a Starbucks and gets an iBeacon-based alert from Tiny Tycoons providing the name of the player who owns the location and a prompt to purchase it.

Bluetooth LE, which iBeacon is based on, is also a promising technology for upcoming games. Pkpkt, a game released in mid-December, utilizes Bluetooth LE to let users steal virtual currency from one another in real life, in a futuristic game of tag. Knock, an app released in November, also uses Bluetooth LE in a unique way, allowing the iPhone to unlock a Mac. While iBeacon technology is promising for location-based gaming, Bluetooth LE itself could result in a whole new crop of interactive, multiplayer games and apps.

Nintendo’s handheld 3DS gaming device uses a wireless-based system that is somewhat similar to iBeacons to allow two devices to communicate with one another. It also utilizes hotspots around the world to deliver game information, and iBeacons could work similarly, albeit more simply as they would not require a user to connect to Wi-Fi.

First introduced during the 2013 Worldwide Developers Conference, iBeacons allow iPhones and iPads to wirelessly communicate with physical beacons via Bluetooth LE, with the beacons able to deliver specific information to apps when a user is nearby.

iBeacon technology gained some popularity towards the end of 2013 and has been utilized in multiple unique ways. For example, Shopkick and Macy’s teamed up to deliver location-based notices when customers passed by products, and Apple has implemented iBeacons in its retail stores to provide product information to browsing customers. A cafe has used iBeacons to deliver free publications, MLB plans to integrate them into stadiums, and most recently, an iBeacon scavenger hunt was held at CES.

I agree. I think they should always use the qualifier “mobile”. I’ll Candy Crush with the rest of the world, but I don’t consider it gaming.

What do you consider it… productivity?

😉

Definitely not productivity, because casual games eat up plenty of time. I shudder to think about how much time the wife has put into Clumsy Ninja and Singing Monsters, but there is just something qualitatively different about playing a game that requires a video card that cost twice what the rest of the computer did to make it run. 🙂

And Apple has introduced many people who were never into “gaming” to games through iOS, but hard core gaming fanatics still have to deal with poorly written drivers and such.

So…Pac man, Tetris and pong don’t qualify as “gaming” anymore? 😎

I would kill for a real life monopoly iBeacon game! Maybe personalize it for the city you live in. Get 4 or 5 of your local friends to play. Designate a local bank building as the “Collect 200” square where you have to visit it once a day to collect your money… I would totally play that!
I get all excited when I see a story about gaming, and then get let down when I see it is iOS gaming.

I know I’m a gaming snob, but there ought to be a different name for playing games on a phone.

I love the possibility of location based gaming, however, I will hate to see people walking into store or coffee shop, and instead of looking at the counter, immediately look to their phone.Though It does serve a purpose for gaming, and huge megamarkets and shoping malls. How about placing ibeacons in some public park, and play a game of eg. finding treasure ? That would be awesome!

http://www.geocaching.com

About two million locations world wide.

I know I’m a gaming snob, but there ought to be a different name for playing games on a phone.

Like gloming?

I get all excited when I see a story about gaming, and then get let down when I see it is iOS gaming.

I know I’m a gaming snob, but there ought to be a different name for playing games on a phone.

Although I get what you are saying, it is also clear we are transitioning from a dedicated gaming consoul to something else. I think there are a few products that try to use your iphone as a controller for a game that is played on your tv through the ATV. That still has a long way to go. But in the fully itegrated icloud world of the future I believe that just like the phone and PDA and browser came together to create the iPhone, there is a merging of gaming and mobile device afoot. Where it ends, I am not sure.

What do you consider it… productivity?

😉

Virtualized social interaction

What do you consider it… productivity?

😉

Definitely not productivity, because casual games eat up plenty of time. I shudder to think about how much time the wife has put into Clumsy Ninja and Singing Monsters, but there is just something qualitatively different about playing a game that requires a video card that cost twice what the rest of the computer did to make it run. 🙂

And Apple has introduced many people who were never into “gaming” to games through iOS, but hard core gaming fanatics still have to deal with poorly written drivers and such.

I get all excited when I see a story about gaming, and then get let down when I see it is iOS gaming.

I know I’m a gaming snob, but there ought to be a different name for playing games on a phone.

I agree. I think they should always use the qualifier “mobile”. I’ll Candy Crush with the rest of the world, but I don’t consider it gaming.

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